Sam Mataora has ignored interest from the Wests Tigers to re-sign with Canberra. Photo: Jay Cronan
Had Wests Tigers got their way, Canberra youngster Sam Mataora would be rubbing shoulders with Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah in the same dressing room next year.
But loyalty to the club which handed him his NRL chance ultimately convinced the second rower to re-sign with the Raiders until the end of the 2014 season.
The 21-year-old was courted aggressively by the Tigers, who are desperate to bolster their forward depth after offloading Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita to Cronulla, and Gareth Ellis's impending return to England next season.
Mataora made his debut in early 2010 and officially agreed to terms on a new two-year deal with the Raiders on Tuesday night.
''They've helped me out and this is where I started off, so I still wanted to give something back,'' Mataora said yesterday.
''They [the Tigers] were pretty persistent, but I decided to stay.
''I was thinking about it [leaving], but I think I can push through here and try and get a starting spot.''
Meanwhile, Raiders CEO Don Furner said the fact Jack Wighton is likely to be out for the season won't affect contract extension talks with the boom teenager.
The utility back had surgery yesterday on a toe injury sustained in a trampolining accident last week.
Wighton is off contract at the end of next season and the Raiders are desperate to lock him up for a further year after his solid performances at wing and centre to date.
''He's signed for next year, I was just working on an extension,'' Furner said.
''He's still a high priority, I wouldn't see it affecting negotiations.''
Raiders coach David Furner is understandably believed to be unimpressed with the injury, the latest in a string of long-term casualties that have already claimed skipper Terry Campese (knee) and vice-captain Brett White (knee) for the year.
Meanwhile, Josh Dugan's new halves partner Josh McCrone believes the fullback's move to No.6 won't be an instant fix, but will help the team.
McCrone will welcome his third accomplice in the Raiders' halves this season when Dugan starts at five-eighth for Saturday's must-win home clash against Wests Tigers, following stints with Terry Campese and Sam Williams.
''It's a bit different at half, you see the ball a lot more and you don't have to come up with big plays every time, but he's smart enough to work that out,'' McCrone said.
''I don't think one bloke in a different position is going to turn a season around on its own, but hopefully it helps us.'' with AAP